Botox for Bruxism

Understanding botox for bruxism

Do you grind your teeth in your sleep? If you do, you could be damaging your dentition as well as causing jaw and shoulder pain, and headaches. But how could Botox help to relieve the condition?

What causes teeth grinding (bruxism)?

Teeth grinding or ‘bruxism' to give the habit its proper name has many causes, which vary between individuals. The majority of bruxism cases are linked to feelings of depression, stress or anxiety. The habit gets worse when the sufferer is experiencing distress, upset or increased stress in their lives. Bruxism is also a recognized side-effect of certain types of medication, including anti-depressants.

Sufferers of sleep disorders are particularly liable to bruxism. When sleep is disturbed due to snoring, talking in your sleep or breathing disruption, bruxism commonly occurs.

Bruxism can also be a symptom of Parkinson's or Huntingdon's disease.

What are the effects of bruxism?

If bruxism is left untreated, it can cause mayhem with your dentition. The continual movement of the upper teeth across the lower ones breaks fillings, wears down enamel, and sometimes even cracks the teeth. Commonly, the incisor tips begin to chip away. You may develop noticeably bigger jaw muscles, and your jaw joint might begin to click or even lock.

Bruxism can leave you suffering pain on jaw movement and tightness when you open your mouth. You could find that you have a headache when you wake in the morning. Your teeth may become more sensitive to heat and cold and you may experience pain when chewing your food.

Earache and shoulder pain are also common side effects.


There are a number of options for treating bruxism.

Mouth guard

Your dentist may fit you with a custom-made, plastic nightguard to be worn in your mouth at night while you're in bed. This is an effective treatment tool that will also help to protect your teeth from the effects of continual grinding. The guard is designed to fit snugly between your upper and lower teeth and works by shielding them from the grinding effect, as well as cushioning your jaw.

Treating stress and other causes

In addition to the physical treatment of bruxism, it will be helpful to identify the causes of your stress and to address them.

Your doctor will be able to give you advice on how to tackle these issues and may be able to change any medication you are taking that could be making your teeth grinding worse. Counseling may be effective in reducing your stress levels and you may also find that meditation or relaxation therapy before sleep could help.


Using Botox for bruxism is also very effective. The botulinum toxin from which Botox is derived acts as a muscle paralytic and it can be extremely effective in the treatment of bruxism.

The procedure is carried out by your dentist and takes just a few minutes. Apart from a small degree of discomfort during the injection, the procedure is painless and there are no unpleasant after-effects or recovery time.

Small doses of Botox are injected directly into the masseter muscle (the large muscle that allows the jaw to move). The Botox slightly paralyzes the masseter muscle, weakening it sufficiently to prevent involuntary clenching of the jaw and teeth grinding. The result is a reduction of the damage to the teeth caused by bruxism.

The damage that can be caused to the TMJ (temporomandibular joint) by bruxism, together with headaches, can be effectively reduced or completely eliminated. However, all intentional movements, such as smiling, chewing and speaking are not affected or compromised by the use of Botox for bruxism.

It should be noted that Botox is not a cure for bruxism, although it can be extremely effective in controlling the habit and relieving the effects and symptoms. Botox injections that are used for treating bruxism typically provide relief from the condition for three to four months.

In conclusion

Bruxism or teeth grinding can be extremely damaging to your teeth, and it can also cause headaches and muscle pain. Botox injections can be very effective in the treatment of bruxism when used in conjunction with a mouth guard, stress relief counseling, and medication appropriate to the underlying cause of the problem.

Last Reviewed:
June 20, 2017
Last Updated:
October 11, 2017
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